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Pakistan's Punjab government removes TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizvi from terrorism list

Saad Hussain Rizvi, who was arrested on April 12 ahead of planned protests by the TLP, has been languishing at Kot Lakhpat jail under terrorism charges.

Published: 11th November 2021 07:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th November 2021 07:20 PM   |  A+A-

Terrorists, Militants

For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

By PTI

LAHORE: Pakistan's Punjab province government on Thursday removed the name of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Saad Hussain Rizvi from the terrorism list, succumbing to pressure from the radical Islamist party which was involved in deadly clashes with the police.

The government, however, didn't clarify whether it will pursue a number of cases registered against Rizvi in which he was booked for terrorism charges.

According to a notification issued by the provincial government, Rizvi's name has been removed from the Fourth Schedule, a list of proscribed individuals who are suspected of terrorism or sectarianism under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997.

Rizvi, who was arrested on April 12 ahead of planned protests by the TLP, has been languishing at Kot Lakhpat jail under terrorism charges.

His name was placed on the Fourth Schedule shortly after, on April 16.

A source in the Punjab government told PTI that Rizvi is facing over 100 FIRs under terrorism and murder, attempted murder and other cases.

The decision to remove Rizvi's name from the terrorism list comes days after the Imran Khan government entered into a 'secret agreement' with the TLP.

The federal government has already lifted the ban on the TLP, citing in the larger national interest.

Early this week, tens of thousands of TLP workers ended their over a week-long sit-in at Wazirabad, some 150kms from Lahore, they were holding to press the government to expel the French ambassador over blasphemous sketches of Prophet Muhammad, release of its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi and revoke the group's proscribed status.

It is expected that Rizvi will be freed from jail soon.

However, the source said that the expulsion of the French envoy does not figure in secret agreement between the government and the TLP.

The government has also set free over 1,200 TLP workers so far arrested during the clashes with the police in Lahore and on way to Wazirabad, in which 11 Islamists and eight policemen lost their lives.

The TLP had launched protests on October 18 from Lahore and announced to march to Islamabad to force the government to accept its demands.

Soon, Prime Minister Khan is reported to have circulated a report seeking revocation of the ban on the TLP, which was approved by his Cabinet.

Interestingly, just before reaching the 'secret agreement' with the radical Islamists, Prime Minister Khan had categorically announced that his government would not meet the TLP's demand of closing down the French embassy in Pakistan.

The federal cabinet had also announced treating TLP as a militant organisation.

"TLP will be crushed as other such groups have been eliminated. The Pakistani state has defeated major terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda," Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said.

The TLP shot to fame in 2017 when it held a massive protest for three weeks in the busy Faizabad interchange near Islamabad.

The party lifted the lockdown of the city after the then government sacked the law minister.



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